Fifty shades of Dave (davywavy) wrote,
Fifty shades of Dave

Confirmation Bias

For the last six months or so, I've been involved in a social experiment. Well, actually, that's a lie. I've been involved in writing joke news pieces for popular* satirical site Newsthump, and when I say "Social experiment", I really mean "trolling lefties for money", which is rather what I expect it to be like when I die and go to heaven.

However, in the course of this writing it has morphed into something of a social experiment based around the replies and comments my pieces get. Admittedly it's a small sample group - people who reply and comment on satirical news stories - but it's been interesting nevertheless.
Newsthump is, you see, run by a bunch of pinkoes and for two reasons I don't really fit their usual content; firstly, I'm their only right of centre contributor, which is an interesting experience, and secondly I run a rule of 'go for the joke'. If I think of a good joke about people who I actually rather like I'll run it anyway because there's cold hard cash in it for me and you know what us right-wingers are like. This appears to be an unusual mindset in the writing of cheap internet jokes, as most view it as a medium for being rude about their particular bete noirs rather than just having a laugh and maximimising revenues.

As a result of this I've got to make jokes about most of the political parties and groupings of the UK, and as I've got access to the backoffice and can see who is linking and tweeting and commenting on my work I can also see seen how their supporters respond to being mocked. You get a lot of angry abuse or worthy corrections about how your joke is just *wrong*, and it's actually quite interesting as there are definite, identifiable trends in the sort of comments you get from different political groupings.

Labour and Conservative supporters - especially Conservative - don't appear all that fussed about jokes being made about them. This makes sense, I suppose. When you've been the big dog in the park for several lifetimes you're just going to develop a thick skin to this sort of thing. Labour supporters seem to take it worse than the Conservatives, but they are in a downswing and probably feel a bit more sensitive and I can't help but feel that if I'd been making the same jokes about Conservatives in, say, 2001 the boot would have been on the other foot.

The political supporters who are best at taking a joke are - drum roll - the Liberal Democrats. Yes, they may be a defeated band of also-rans who have just been defenestrated in a ruthless way by the electorate and may well never recover from it, but I've got to admit they can laugh ruefully when mocked about it, take it on the chin, and make jokes at their own expense in their own turn. I have never, not once, had an angry or abusive comment or a chippy correction from a Liberal Democrat when I've made jokes about them. Well done, LibDems. All eight of you.

In second place in the 'taking a joke' stakes are the Greens. In the main they're also perfectly capable of taking a gleeful ribbing at their expense with a rueful grin before getting on with their day. They aren't as good at it as the Libdems, that's for sure, though. Whilst the majority are good-natured souls, I have had a small amount of either angry, ranty abuse or, perhaps more entertainingly, finger-wagging corrections.
You remember back when you were at school there was a pasty kid in the second year who simply couldn't help but raise an admonishing finger to the 500lb gorilla in the special needs class when he got something wrong and say "Actually, I think you'll find..."?
Well, yeah, Greens, you've got some of them.

Least good at taking a joke are - by a considerable margin - UKIP and SNP supporters. And I mean they really, really can't take a joke. What's ever more depressing is how many of them seem to think political affiliation has a genetic component as they'll call you racist for mocking their party, its policies or actions. I suppose it's unsurprising - nationalism is born of fear, and as we all know, fear leads to anger and anger leads to hate. Yoda said so.

However, as well as ignoring, rueful acknowledgement, pedantic "Actually.."-style correction or angry rudeness, there's another reaction, which is the one I find the most interesting: Reinterpreting the intent of the article so it is supportive of your position.
Unless you are outright and directly rude - which I tend not to be, as that's not as funny - some people will move heaven and earth to reinterpret the piece as supportive of their cause, and this tendency is most noticable in SNP and, lately, Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

Take this, for example: Jeremy Corbyn pledges to nationalise satirical websites.
Now, it's a mystery to me how anyone can take that piece and, in their head, read it as meaning that Jeremy Corbyn is a tremendous fellow who has got a bang up idea about nationalising the railways. But somehow people managed it. And not a small number of them either. It's actually one of my most popular pieces in a while (so, as I get paid on page views, thanks Jeremy Corbyn supporters!).

I suppose it's an insight into the human tendency to so want something to be true that you see evidence of it wherever you look, and will find it even if it's not there. Because I actually wrote it, and I'm very confident it's not.

*Certainly more popular than the Evening Harold, which appears to really wind them up for some reason.
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